Northrop Grumman Corp. (San Diego, Calif.) announced on Sept. 2 that
it is on track for the first flight of its newest Unmanned Combat Air
System (UCAS) demonstrator for the U.S. Navy's Unmanned Combat Air
System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program.
The first of two X-47B carrier demonstration system air vehicles is more than 50 percent complete and ahead of its build schedule, enabling this first flight in November 2009, just over 24 months from initial contract award. This is a historical step toward operating an unmanned combat aircraft aboard a Navy aircraft carrier.
The X-47B UCAS-D will be the first ever unmanned tailless jet to land aboard a carrier. The flight test program will include catapult launch and arrested landings from the carrier, autonomous carrier control area operations, and precise movement of X-47B aircraft on the carrier flight deck. The first carrier landing and subsequent sea
trials are planned to begin in November 2011.
"The UCAS-D program will establish the feasibility of operating stealthy autonomous unmanned aircraft from aircraft carriers, enabling the Navy to project a highly survivable and persistent surveillance and attack presence from anywhere to anywhere on the globe," said Scott Winship, Northrop Grumman vice president and UCAS-D program manager.
Navy's leadership in propelling this revolutionary technology forward
and the industry team's commitment to rapidly deliver the capability to
the fleet underscore the tremendous momentum on the program. We clearly
recognize the historical importance of the Navy UCAS program and the
role it will play in transforming carrier
The X-47 UCAS-D industry team includes Lockheed Martin, GKN and Pratt & Whitney. The Navy awarded the UCAS-D contract to Northrop Grumman in August 2007.